No, not the confession part. That cheese is addictive.
It’s true. Cheese has what’s called casomorphins in it that light up the reward center in your brain (thanks to an opioid effect). Similar to how cocaine does ... not that I know anything about that.
Okay, okay, I totally used to binge eat cheese. Like three or four sticks of string cheese in a row.
I used to eat cheese sandwiches. Literally, cheese between two slices of bread.
Did you think I was about to confess to being a drug user? Shame on you.
People always say they could never go vegan because they can’t give up cheese. (And cocaine, as it turns out, but we’re headed down the wrong road here.)
Aside from the age-old where do you get your protein inquiry, the next question a total stranger will feel comfortable asking you is, “What about cheese?”
I could never give up cheese, they proudly proclaim.
Listen, this isn’t a test of your womanliness or your manliness.
But let’s think about it for a minute.
Do you start drooling when someone talks about pizza? You start picturing that ooey, gooey cheese melting all over. Oooh, it’s all stretchy.
Or you hit up that cheese tray the minute you step in to a party. You’ve got cheese radar.
What about that grilled cheese with all the cheddary goodness overflowing?
Do you have fantasies about apples or avocados?
Maybe if you’re into some weird stuff. But chances are you don’t daydream about healthy food or the fruit bowl on your countertop.
It’s that leftover pizza. That block of Brie. That mac and cheese.
It’s because of those pesky casomorphins.
Just so you know, I’m not immune to this. I don’t think anyone is. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I just want us to be aware of what’s going on here.
Sure, that pizza smells good and that mac and cheese looks to die for. Cheese smells awesome.
Unless, of course, it’s bleu cheese or Limburger or some other stinky variety that my boyfriend eats like candy.
That stuff will immediately make you not want cheese. No offense to any stink aficionados. I guess that means it’s the good stuff? (Whatever that means.)
Anyway, I don’t want to villainize cheese. I strongly believe that no food is inherently good or bad. It’s the feelings we assign to it.
Guilt, shame, love, comfort, happiness.
Cheese makes us feel good, doesn’t it?
Unless you’re like me, and it tends to give you a bit of a tummy ache and makes you itch. Kind of like bugs are crawling all over me.
(Part two of the confession: I would eat those three or four sticks of cheese even though I knew they would make me feel like shit. For some reason, that was part of the appeal.)
It’s a fun feeling. Especially when it starts in the middle of the night.
But you know what? I know it’s from the cheese, and I know when I eat it I’m going to pay the price.
You know what else? I do it anyway (sometimes).
Because I choose to do it consciously.
What if we all ate consciously, knew what was in our food, how it was made, how it would make our bodies feel, and how it would make us feel emotionally?
And we choose to eat it because, yes, today I want to feel comforted by that mac and cheese. I acknowledge that I will feel all creepy crawly, but I am willing to accept that because I choose the temporary emotional high this time.
Put your big girl (or boy) pants on and take responsibility for your actions.
That’s a way of eating I can get on board with.